July 28, 2020

What’s Happening with SharePoint Workflows?

Post by: Kyle Ziber

Kyle Ziber has been working in SharePoint and the Microsoft Cloud since 2010. He holds an MCSE in both SharePoint and Productivity from Microsoft.

Microsoft’s Big Announcement on 07/06/2020

Chris McNulty posted an article about the end of life for SharePoint 2010 Workflows in Microsoft 365. My first thought was, “Oh, my poor clients!” While it’s true that this retiring service has been a long time coming, many, many people still use SharePoint Designer Workflows for critical business processes.

So, what does the doomed End-of-Life for SharePoint Workflows really look like, and how does it work?

First off, why is this happening? Chris starts his article by talking about the changing Microsoft 365 environment, and I agree. Today, Microsoft 365 is a platform and not a group of individual services you can cherry-pick. SharePoint Designer Workflows have been in use for the last 10 years and were mostly limited to managing the business process in SharePoint only. Instead of this narrow view, Microsoft has been working to connect all of its services in M365. Power Automate is the solution for orchestration and automation in this new platform. Power Automate can connect to all services in M365 (plus 220+ other services) to better support complicated enterprise processes.

What Does it Mean that SharePoint 2010 Workflows Are Retiring?

Microsoft will be turning off 2010 workflows for any new tenants created after August 1st. This makes sense. Nobody should be creating anything new in a deprecated and retiring service. Unfortunately, organizations that want to pop-up a new tenant and migrate will be losing some functionality.

The next step is on November 1st, 2020, when Microsoft will start removing the ability to not only create new 2010 workflows, but even to run existing 2010 workflows. This is a true, final End-of-Life the likes of which we haven’t seen in M365 until now.

Microsoft tends to let old tech, like InfoPath, linger for many years, but workflows are a little different. Workflows require services and computing power in the background to run. It makes sense that Microsoft would want to shut down these services so they don’t need to maintain those systems.

What About SharePoint 2013 Workflows?

Microsoft will also be turning off the ability to create and run 2013 workflows on newly created tenants starting in November 2020. Luckily for those organizations doing migrations, there will be a way to re-enable this service on new tenants via PowerShell. However, I want to stress that Power Automate is a better solution for new automation and workflow processes going forward.

Is This Affecting On-Prem SharePoint?

On-prem SharePoint installations of 2019 will continue to support SharePoint Designer workflows through its lifecycle (2026). These types of workflows will not be supported in any future releases of SharePoint on-prem.

Where Does My Organization Go From Here?

The best place to start while thinking about your SharePoint implementation is to catalog your current use of workflows and start to plan for moving those processes over to another solution. Microsoft offers a free tool called the SharePoint Modernization Scanner that will give you a report of all your legacy workflows. Sharegate is also a great tool for finding legacy workflows and creating nice reports.

Most of all, make sure you inform your end-users and power users about this change. Over 10 years of content is available online about how to automate processes using SharePoint Designer, and it’s easy to access in any search engine. If you don’t educate your users that this is no longer a viable option, there is a good chance they will stumble upon a SharePoint Designer solution and try to use it. The best-case scenario includes a lot of wasted time and frustration. Your worst-case scenario is the implementation of a solution that will be useless in a few months.

Wrap-Up

The biggest takeaway for me is the need to make sure to continue to educate on the ever-changing landscape of Microsoft 365. Microsoft is doing its best to make sure that M365 is a consistent platform that utilizes tools that span all the available services. The End-of-Life of SharePoint 2010 Workflows continues toward that vision. I’m excited to see how the platform continues to improve.

I’ve found that the visual below from Joel Oleson helps me see the big picture for the changes Chris listed. I hope it helps you as well. If you have any questions, you can always reach out to us!

Resources:
https://techcommunity.microsoft.com/t5/office-end-of-support-blog/support-update-for-sharepoint-2010-workflows-in-microsoft-365/ba-p/1505453
https://collabshow.com/2020/07/08/microsoft-sharepoint-workflow-end-of-life/
https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/office/sharepoint-2010-workflow-retirement-1ca3fff8-9985-410a-85aa-8120f626965f?ui=en-US&rs=en-US&ad=US
https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/lifecycle/search?alpha=SharePoint%20Server%202019
https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/sharepoint/product-servicing-policy/updated-product-servicing-policy-for-sharepoint-2019

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